Senator George Khaniri: The Vihiga County Watermelon

As the 2017 general elections first approaches, political re-alignment is fast gaining momentum and one person who seems to have mastered this happens to be the current Vihiga county Senator Hon. George Khaniri. He currently prides himself as one of the longest serving elected members from the larger luhya community and based on this, one would easily be tempted to believe that his time and again re-election was pegged on his development agenda or simply put, popularity. But this is far from the truth for the senator is allergic to development if his track record as Hamisi MP is anything to go by.

One thing however that I must acknowledge is the fact that, over the years, the senator has mastered political tricks that have always seen him time and again re-elected save for 2007 when his comeback was as a result of seducing one Mr. Upendo to get the ODM certificate. The senator is always known to be at the right place at the right time something that has seen him retain his seat all through. In 2002, he jumped ship from KANU and thanks to the NARC wave, he was re-elected to the national assembly. Come 2013, he rode on Mudavadis back courtesy of the UDF wave in Vihiga county to become the area first ever senator. But since then, he has gone back to ODM, a party where his heart belongs.

The senator has been on the forefront calling on the ANC leader Hon. Mudavadi, a man on whose back he road to become senator, to support Raila and ODM at that. He has not wasted any single opportunity to undermine Hon. Mudavadi and at some point before he fully landed back to ODM courtesy of the political parties’ act, him together with former speaker Kenneth Marende and Cyrus Jirongo came up with the United Democratic Party to achieve this agenda. Hon. Jirongo has since joined hands with Mudavadi as he seeks to unite the Mulembe people. Word on the streets also have it that the reason as to why UDP did not pick up was the fact that its funders Jubilee realized that one, he was an ODM man and that two, he commanded nothing in the vast Mulembe nation.

It was for this reasons that it was largely expected that the senator would accompany the CORD leader during his tour in his backyard Vihiga county. However, being the watermelon that he has become, he decided to play the backstage role while leaving mobilization for the same to his spanner boys like Hon. Muhiga. This was a tactical move as the senator is at cross roads bearing in mind that the Mudavadi led ANC is sweeping through the county as his preferred party ODM continue to loose popularity. Things have not been made any better by the fact that ANC has attracted serious contestants for the senatorial seat like the new sheriff in town one Julius Amira Saisi who also happens to be his neighbor.

The looming disbandment of UDF, a party on which he was elected on further complicates the matrix for him for he has to make a choice in the near future unlike previously where he waited until the last minute to grab a ticket of a party that was sweeping the waves in his area of Jurisdiction. This forced him to stay away from both the ANC greet the people tour and the recent CORD leader visit in his backyard.

But a word with his close confidant and ally one Vincent Kaduki, who is also going to contest for the Shiru ward seat apparently on an ANC ticket, informs me that the senators earlier calculations seems to have hit a dead snug as he was purely banking on the Banyore votes. He further states that, the senator was thinking of going back to ANC, but bearing in mind that he has been abusing its leader at every other single opportunity seems to be a mountain to climb leave alone the fact that he is no longer assured of a direct ticket, something ODM has reserved for him. Add this to his family links to the Odinga family and his fast deteriorating popularity, this son of the soil has found himself at a crossroads.

How long he will play this watermelon role remains unknown but one thing is for a fact, time is fast catching up on him. Will he simply throw in the towel? That remains a debate for another day

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